Beef down, pork up for Canada’s ag exports in 2020
By Bree Rody
Canada’s agricultural community is breathing a happy sigh following what turned out to be a great year for ag exports.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Canada is on a trajectory to surpass last year’s $76 billion in agriculture and agri-food exports – which was, at the time, a record. It is now progressing steadily toward the government’s goal of $75 billion by 2025.
Agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said in a statement that she is proud of the country’s farmers and food businesses for such achievements, “despite all the challenges that COVID-19 has thrown their way.”
In the first 10 months of the year, Canadian agri-food and seafood exports increased by 10% year-over-year, up to $61 billion (up from $55.5 billion for the same period last year). Top destinations for export include the U.S. (representing more than 50% of exports), China, Japan and the EU. The EU has also shown a 42.7% increase in value in the last year, driven largely by an increase in canola exports.
Despite an overall increase, there were marginal declines in some sectors including beef and live bovine (down 1.1% and 8.5% respectively), as well as fish and seafood, and frozen French fries. However, pork and pork product exports increased by 21.9%, reaching $4.2 billion. China, Japan and the U.S. are the top-three markets for Canadian pork exports. And although it only represents under $50 million in total export value for pork, Vietnam showed notable growth this year – up $36.6 million, or $317.1%.
Imports reached $44.5 billion in the first 10 months of the year, representing a 2.2% increase.
Government actions to empower the industry supply chain include putting in place necessary safety measures in order to allow essential trade goods to cross borders, as well as work to defray the costs of worker quarantine periods. It’s also pivoted some programs to support online marketing initiative, launching a digital update of the Canada Brand and expanding the CanExport program to help businesses with digital marketing initiatives.